Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is part 2 of my weekly series on addressing the frustrations I heard from the attendees of a talk I did for a meetup group a few months ago. The participants described their tarot holdups as:

  1. Reading clearly for yourself without being pulled off track by seeing what you wanted to see
  2. How to manage psychic impressions when doing readings (Today’s post)
  3. Finding patterns in the cards to help you tell the story
  4. Choosing between oracle, angel, or tarot cards
  5. Working with the most useful spreads

I soon realized that I could write a full blog post on each topic, so over the next several weeks you’ll see my advice concerning each of these common tarot reading frustrations.

If you want to follow the series without missing anything, I encourage you to sign up to receive email notification when a new post goes up by signing up on the top right of this page (totally free and you will only get notifications of my blog posts, published 3-4 times a month). If you’d like to subscribe to my once-a-month newsletter with notifications of classes, talks, meetup groups, special events, and a recap of my blog posts from the month, please sign up here or through my Facebook page.

Common Tarot Reading Frustration #2: Reading the Cards vs. Getting Psychic Impressions

"La Luna" from the Da Vinci Tarot by A. Atanassov, Iassen Ghiuselev published by Lo Scarabeo 2004.
“La Luna” from the Da Vinci Tarot by A. Atanassov, Iassen Ghiuselev published by Lo Scarabeo 2004.

There are several reasons why I discourage my students from sharing their intuitive or psychic impressions when reading. I whole-heartedly support and understand a student’s need to learn to open themselves up to and trust their inner knowledge. However, this is a separate skill from reading the cards.

If your inner wisdom is contradicting the cards—and it will, they are two different modalities and you might not yet be equally skilled in both—and you choose your intuition, then you are teaching yourself not to trust the cards. When learning to read tarot, it is important to stick to the illustrations on the cards, knowing that they are providing an honest and insightful answer to your question, and work through the spread until you understand that answer. Restrain yourself as much as possible from pulling clarifiers, as well—it is beneficial to work to understand the complexities of any given spread. If you’ve put in the work to understand the given spread as best you can, if the answer opens up another question, do another spread on the new question.

That said, I also have to make the point that I do not teach from any books or standardized or established meanings. All the answers lie in the imagery of the cards. So if by “intuition” you mean that you see patterns in the cards that contradict the book, then yes, you are reading the cards. But if you look at the images and the impression you get is contradicting the scene before you, then choosing the intuitive impulse undermines your development as a reader.

Sometimes contradictions are valuable—you might get a negative card in the advice position for instance—and you have to use your creativity, imagination, and experience to see in what way the seemingly negative meaning is actually good advice. For instance, getting the Death card as advice might mean to quit something. Getting the 9 of Swords as advice might be saying that taking on the stress and anxiety of a difficult task will be worth the hassle.

Takeaway: If you’re a psychic, do psychic readings using the techniques taught for that modality. If you’re a tarot reader, read the cards. Trying to prioritize intuitive impressions over the scenes and symbols in the cards teaches you not to trust the cards.

Please join us next week for a an exercise that helps you find patterns in the cards!


If you’d like to learn to read the tarot with no memorization or books, simply letting the cards speak for themselves, check out my upcoming Magician’s Tools: Beginning Tarot class, Sundays, February 12-March 19, 2017, 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Isis Books and Gifts, 2775 South Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113.

If you’re getting started and want to know the best beginner deck, please take a look at my post on 50 Beginning Tarot Decks.



Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into the most active and one of the largest tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a psychic and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit

© 2017 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

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Overcoming Five Common Tarot Reading Frustrations #2: Managing Psychic Impressions